1000 days

It’s Time to Solve the Global Crisis of Child Malnutrition

Today is a day for champions—a day to call on global leaders to commit to ensuring all children have enough food to eat, no matter where they are born in the world.

checking a child for malnutrion

Through its Early Childhood Development programs, ChildFund routinely monitors children’s growth to detect signs of malnutrition. (Photo: Jake Lyell)

Nearly 200 million children are chronically malnourished and suffer from lifelong, often irreversible, physical and cognitive damage as a result. Malnutrition also contributes to 35 percent of all deaths of children under the age of 5 annually, and roughly 20 percent of all maternal deaths.

Malnutrition is not just a result of poverty—it is also a cause.

As ChildFund’s CEO Anne Lynam Goddard often points out: Childhood is a one-time opportunity. We have one chance to get it right, especially when it comes to nutrition during the 1,000-day window that starts with a mother’s pregnancy and continues until a child is 2 years old.

Experts agree—nutrition delivers the biggest bang for the buck when investing in future generations. A panel of Nobel laureate economists known as the Copenhagen Consensus recently concluded that fighting malnutrition in young children should be the top investment priority for policymakers. The payoff is huge: $1 in invested in nutrition generates as much as $138 in better health and increased productivity.

Investing in improved nutrition can

  • save more than 1 million lives each year
  • increase a country’s GDP by 2 to 3 percent annually
  • significantly reduce the human and economic burden of diseases like malaria, HIV/AIDS and diabetes
  • help 360 million mothers and children have healthy futures.
child on scale

Charting a child’s weight and height. (Photo: Jake Lyell)

At ChildFund, we emphasize growth promotion until the child is 3 years old. Helping ensure the health and security of infants is a critical component of our work with children throughout their life stages. Healthy infants are more likely to become educated and confident children, who, in turn, grow into skilled and involved youth. When children have a healthy start in life, they have a greater opportunity to break the bonds of poverty.

We fully support the Scaling Up Nutrition roadmap that is guiding the international aid community’s efforts to combat undernutrition.

Today on Capitol Hill, ChildFund is joining hands with other international development organizations, members of Congress, government leaders, civil society groups and private industry to call for action on child nutrition issues at the G8 Summit taking place this weekend at Camp David in Washington, D.C.

We call on leaders in the U.S. administration, Congress and G8 delegations to join us in support of improved nutrition globally, particularly for women and children in the 1,000 days from pregnancy to a child’s second birthday.

Our objectives are straightforward:

  1. Commit to concrete, time-bound goal(s) to reduce chronic malnutrition.
  2. Support the SUN movement and SUN countries’ efforts to improve nutrition.
  3. Ensure food security, agriculture and health investments are optimized to improve nutrition.

Now is the time for global leaders to reaffirm their commitment to confronting the challenges of hunger, poverty and disease by accelerating efforts to improve nutrition, particularly for women and children.

Will you join us and be a champion for change?

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